I first met James two years ago while following the making of my DB Prince of Wales suit at Henry Poole. (You can see that full series here.) As with most the Row’s apprentices, he has a passion for clothing that extends far beyond his day-to-day work, which of course is what this series of posts is intended to highlight. It’s also what makes me optimistic about the future of the bespoke tailoring.

Where do you work, doing what, and how long have you been there?
I’m currently an apprentice coat maker at Henry Poole & Co. I’ve been there for two and a half years.

How did you get into bespoke?
At school I studied fine art, textiles, history and drama. I have always been interested in fashion and ‘making’ – always making!

My family is steeped in the textiles industry in Ireland, producing linen, hence the originally Scottish surname ‘Weir’ from my father’s side, which referred to the water used to power their small linen mill. My mother’s family was also involved in fashion/couture and on my grandfather’s side fine textiles in northern Italy.

I knew that I wanted to be a tailor from my early teens. I’ve always been fascinated generally by construction of  anything that fits the body, and I altered my own clothes when I was at school to my own style and fitting. After finishing A-Levels I came to London and walked into Henry Poole & Co. I had previously been to London doing research for my A-Levels and several times walked down Savile Row, but never gone in to any of the companies there. That day I was given an informal interview – I suppose they liked the look of me and what they hoped I  had to offer. Events progressed quickly and I was working at Henry Poole & Co as an apprentice just a few weeks later.

What do you like about Savile Row?
I am interested in the history, the making of bespoke garments and the Row’s place in the context of tailoring. I think that Savile Row is about continuity and tradition and this is an important part of what it stands for.

I also like the idea that it’s a place men – and nowadays women – can come to have something of incredible craftsmanship made exactly for them. It’s a place you can have a one to one, and men especially don’t have this service as much as women do. I think that’s why a lot of men like to have a garment made for them, and Savile Row allows this to happen. I also enjoy working with the finest cloth  and learning from the incredible skills the tailors, cutters and finishers have; it’s a great honour.



Describe your style, in terms of cut, cloth and colour.
I like clean cut, pared down garments, with little touches and embellishments of things such as silk and touches of the eccentric.

What’s your favourite style of suit?
I love three-button coats. There’s something terribly old fashioned about them.

What’s your favourite cloth and why?
I’d say traditional modern tweeds, such as Donegal and Yorkshire tweeds. I love outrageous Scottish tartans for their garishness, and herringbone tweeds and twills. The slubbier the better. It might sound clichéd but I like a modern twist on traditional cloth.

Silk is somthing I collect, but that’s a whole different ball game. 




What’s your favourite piece of tailoring that you own?
Last year I made myself a three-piece Donegal tweed suit. Although I live in London my home is in Derbyshire in the Peak District and I love wearing it! For me cloths are meant to be worn and I like cloths which age in time; it’s what I would call the life of clothing.

What’s your favourite accessory?
Ties and bow ties, made from silk, cotton or wool, depending on the season. Texture is crucial.

What do you wear at the weekend?
Jeans and John Smedley fine merino knits. Also my Donegal if I feel like it.

What designer brands do you like?
Good quality vintage men’s stuff. I am also a huge fan of John Smedley as its part of Derbyshire and I’ve been wearing it for years. Then Tom Ford, Ossie Clarke …

What blogs or websites do you go on?
I don’t really follow fashion blogs, but do I read lots of books, flick through magazines and watch people around me.

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Anonymous

After finishing my A levels I came to London and walked into Henry Poole & Co… Had an informal interview and was working a few weeks later.
Makes getting an apprenticeship on the row sound so so easy 1 there are very few opportunities 2 they usually want you to have done the course at newham college for a year 3 the competition is immense and here is this guy in his early 20s walking straight out of school and into one of the best houses on the row I’m sure that there will be a few of your readers simon who will be very jealous.

Fantastic blog by the way keep up the good work and ignore as you do the haters who are only jealous they didn’t think up the idea 1st

Please excuse any and all punctual and grammatical errors

Anonymous

Bloody love the Grecian slippers, such an elegant look. something that I may have to steal…

Anonymous

grecian slippers? look like regular Church’s or similar to me……..

Anonymous

Grecian slippers are the style, but yes Church’s do make a very similar pair, and a backless air travel slipper also.

Joanne Terena Purcell

Amazing! Not many people are passionate about tailoring in this modern age but its so important.

Anonymous

What comes across is the passion this young man has for the craft of tailoring. If you read closely what he says he comes from a background thats rich with textile and makers. He’s been immersed in the language and traditions, via his irish/ italian family, which he seems to have inherited innately,
and he talks about the continuity of Savile Row with tradition. This is a young man that understands and has an innate feeling for the business. We should applaud this and nurture young people who hold these values and traditions true. Especially when young people are given a bad press these days. You cannot beat ‘ hands on skills’ this is the best way to learn, through feel and eye and not affiliated necessarily to the constraints of modern teaching methodology and practices. The old master tailors know this intuitively, and this also creates greater diversity and creativity and a natural evolution of style through practice. Shoes are great, show confidence and taste- less is more and it shows. Great hands too.